Cardinals 53 Man Roster Projections

All 32 NFL teams must have their rosters whittled down from around 90 players to 53 by this upcoming Tuesday at 4:00 PM EST. With some people showing flashes and others looking like duds, here are my projections for the Arizona Cardinals' main roster, as well as some of those I think will return to the practice squad.

QB (3)

  • Clayton Tune
  • Josh Dobbs
  • David Blough

I don’t believe Murray will be off the PUP list by Tuesday, so his exclusion makes perfect sense. However, some may be shocked at the exclusion of Colt McCoy. However, after seeing clips from training camp and not feeling inspired by any in-game stats or film, the best thing for the Cardinals will be to bank on the youth of Tune, the experience of Dobbs, and the stellar preseason heroics of Blough. While I’d prefer to see McCoy retire and stick around as a coach on the Cardinals, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him take a backup job elsewhere.

RB (3)

  • James Connor
  • Keaontay Ingram
  • Emari Demercardo

James Connor’s spot at the top of the depth chart was all but solidified before the season even began, so this preseason was mostly spent trying to figure out how things would play out behind him. Ingram played fairly well in his two appearances with 11 total carries for 48 yards, giving him an average of 4.4 per carry. He also showed as a receiver and in pass protection but will likely still just be used as a spell or change of pace back. The decision around Demercado and Clement was probably the most difficult one in this group. However, considering this is a rebuilding year for the Cardinals, I believe they will lean into the youth, explosiveness, and versatility of Demercado while retaining Clement on the practice squad in case of injury.

WR (6)

  • Hollywood Brown
  • Greg Dortch
  • Rondale Moore
  • Michael Wilson
  • Zach Pascal
  • Davion Davis

While the QB and RB positions following Connor were wide-open races, The rest of the offensive positions felt mostly solidified before the final preseason game even started. With Brown, Dortch, and Moore all being under six foot, it feels like a must to include some size on the main roster with Pascal and Wilson, which just leaves the sixth spot. Plenty of players deserved to be picked here. Baccellia seemed to excel when Tune was on the field and has plenty of history with the Cardinals (but not much with the new regime). Kaden Davis was pretty consistent in his outings with the team and could definitely take Davion Davis’ spot. Following his play in the Vikings game, I feel the Cards will ride the hot hand and keep Davion Davis, hoping to see those same big catches if he ever needs to see the field.

TE (4)

  • Zach Ertz
  • Trey McBride
  • Noah Togiai
  • Blake Whiteheart

The top three of this group seem to be of no doubt, as Ertz and McBride are the clear TEs 1 and 2, while Togiai has flashed in camp and seems to have a firm hold on TE3. The 4th tight end that will be carried on a squad that plans to pound the rock and use multiple tight ends plenty seems to be a point of contention though. I believe that Blake Whiteheart started this preseason as good as one player can, and has consistently shown himself as a capable enough receiver, inline and outside blocker on screens and such to deserve that final spot in the TE room over the others suggested around the internet.

OL (9)

  • DJ Humphries
  • Elijah Wilkinson
  • Hjalte Froholdt
  • Will Hernandez
  • Paris Johnson Jr
  • Jon Gaines II
  • Kelvin Beachum
  • Marquis Hayes
  • Lecitus Smith

With the tackle positions of this OL being practically written in stone, it feels like the Cardinals will enter the season with more interior options than exterior ones. Jon Gaines offers fantastic versatility and will likely be the backup center as well as having the ability to play instead of Wilkinson or Hernandez if needed. The remaining players who I believe will be held into the regular season are hold-overs from last year's roster who played well enough and are a far bit more proven than the other potential o-linemen.

DL (6)

  • L.J. Collier
  • Johnathan Ledbetter
  • Leki Fotu
  • Dante Stills
  • Carlos Watkins
  • Eric Banks

From the lineups we saw throughout the preseason, it seems like the Cardinals will try to stick with 2 or 3 D-lineman for most plays, with those being Collier and Ledbetter with two, and Fotu added in when a Nose tackle is used. One player on this list to keep your eye on to move up the depth chart is Eric Banks. He’s got a high motor and can create great outside leverage. With better coverage or inside pressure from a teammate, many of his QB hurries could’ve easily been sacks, this trait would make him a great asset on clear passing downs. Ben Stille had exactly 3 tackles in each of the preseason games, which is incredible consistency for a deep bench player who can come in on obvious run downs to fill space.

LB (10)

  • Zaven Collins
  • Kyzir White
  • Krys Barnes
  • Dennis Gardeck
  • Josh Woods
  • BJ Ojulari
  • Cam Thomas
  • Ezekiel Turner
  • Zach McCloud
  • Myjai Sanders

With the sheer number of Linebackers the Cardinals have to begin with and the different roles they are going to have in the small snippets we saw of Rallis’ defensive scheme through pre-season and practice, it only makes sense it will be one of the deeper positions on the team. The starters seem to be set with Collins, White, Barnes, and Gardeck (who will likely still be impactful on special teams and switched out often for the younger players at his same position) with Woods being the backup inside backer. While this term is typically used for basketball, the thing that stuck out most to me about Woods was the amount of "Hustle" plays he made. Examples include his pursuit and almost strip tackle of Rashee Rice against the Chiefs, or diving on a potentially loose ball while everyone else stood around against the Broncos. Ezekiel Turner likely fills his role as a special teams ace for the team once again, with McCloud being the biggest wild card potentially on the team. The Cardinals would be crazy not to utilize him in the first game of the season against the Commanders and see if his incredibly hot start with the team can continue.

DB (8)

  • Marco Wilson
  • Garrett Williams*
  • Bobby Price (If Williams is still on the NFI list)
  • Andre Chachere
  • Christian Matthew
  • Budda Baker
  • Jalen Thompson
  • Kei’trel Clark
  • Antonio Hamilton
  • Kris Boyd

It seems like if there is a chance Williams will be ready to go by weeks 1 or 2, it makes sense for the team to take him off the Non-Football Injury list to avoid the mandatory sit-out period of four weeks. Outside of that, this is looking like possibly the weakest group for the Cards. Safety isn’t bad with a definitive top-ten to top-seven duo in Jalen Thompson and Budda Baker, but the defensive backs as a whole are pulled down due to the shallow depth and lack of experience at Corner. Neither Wilson nor Matthew has ever played a complete season in the NFL, with the other two projected starters being rookies Clark and Williams. The Corners with the most experience are Antonio Hamilton and Kris Boyd, who will likely be used more as a special teams gunner than a cornerback. Andre Chachere is good depth at the safety position, with a willingness to throw his body around, but does need to work on wrapping up. Bobby Price should make the roster if Williams is not ready to go, as the Cardinals will just need another body in case of injuries.

ST (3)

  • Matt Prater
  • Nolan Cooney
  • Aaron Brewer

Two of these names are likely to be familiar to Cardinals fans, as Prater has been with the team for two years now and held the record for longest field goal for a good bit of time. As for Brewer, this will be his eighth season as the team’s long-snapper. The biggest problem for this position group is likely Prater’s age, as he recently celebrated his 39th birthday and will likely be retiring at season’s end. Thankfully, the team was able to find a quality replacement for retired punter Andy Lee in Cooney. Cooney has impressed thus far in his preseason appearances. He has averaged 49.2 yards per punt over ten punts, with seven of those punts being downed inside the opponent's 20 and none of his punts ending up in the endzone for a touchback.

While not a complete list, here are some players to expect to see brought back onto the team's practice squad if they make it through waivers.

  • RB Corey Clement
  • WR Kaden Davis
  • WR Andre Baccellia
  • WR Daniel Arias
  • TE Geoff Swaim
  • OL Dennis Daley
  • DL Ben Stille
  • LB Owen Pappoe
  • LB Kyle Soelle
  • CB Nate Hairston

<em>This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Revenge of the Birds' (ROTB) editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of ROTB's editors.</em>